8th Generation Honda Civic Forum banner

1 - 20 of 358 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,477 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Comparison: Stock Suspension vs. HFP Suspension vs. KONI/ Swift Springs Suspension

This comparison is intended to be based off my personal experiences with these three setups and how I went about choosing what I wanted for a suspension. This thread will contain opinions, comments, knowledge and advice that I have gained over the last 1.5 years speaking to people who track and have first hand suspension knowledge on this 8th Generation Civic platform. This information provided forth coming is intended to be used as a guide and I assume no responsibility for your actions with regarding your suspension. This thread is also geared toward insight on handling, and the following is only the tip of the ice burg.

Stock Suspension:

Damper Manufacturer: Showa
Spring Rate: 200 lbs/in (F) & 230lbs/in (R)
Spring Style: Linear
Ride Height: Stock ride height
Adjustable: No
Miles: 2K

Comments: The ride of the stock suspension was actually decent for what it was. Rebound and compression forces of the dampers were geared toward the sporty side; you can tell it was a Civic. The suspension gave the driver with a ride on which bumps were noticed, but were comfortable at that. Those that have tracked the stock suspension state that it actually performs very well when actually pushed to the limits. Body roll is prevalent on the stock suspension.

Tips: Adding front camber bolts to the stock suspension would yield better rotation if one were to allow for more negative camber in the front than the rear. Stock alignment is setup from the factory for under-steer characteristics. Adding the front camber bolts and allowing the camber to be greater in the front than the rear will begin to induce over-steer. Downside, increase inside tire wear. Rotate more often.

Adding a 22MM Progress RSB will also allow for greater rotation as well over the Stock 17MM.

Adding some very nice carefully chosen summer tires will also improve handling over Stock suspension.

HFP Suspension:

Damper Manufacturer: Showa
Spring Rates: N/A
Spring Style: Linear
Ride Height: 0.8” – 1.0” Less Stock Height
Adjustable: No
Miles: 35K
Cost: $450-600+ (Cost of HFP Kit Only)
Suspension Style: Kit Form. All required hardware included. Plug and Play.

Comments: If you are looking for a suspension that is a performer without spending much money this suspension allows for that. The HFP suspension is designed by Honda, for your specific model of Civic. After installing this suspension you will immediately notice the slight decrease in ride comfort. If you think the stock suspension is too stiff, then this is not the suspension for you. The rebound and compression forces of the dampers have been modified. People can only assume that the HFP springs are stiffer than stock and I agree. Nobody that I know of has tested and calculated the spring rates of the HFP springs. Most, including myself, only assume a 10-15% increase in spring rates. A lot of the stiffness is from the HFP damper’s rebound forces. You will notice bumps more with this suspension. Compression forces are also stiffer as well. HFP utilizes shorter damper shafts to accommodate the shorter HFP springs. When driving, the vehicle feels more planted to the road when compared to Stock suspension. Less body roll is prevalent when compared to Stock, but does not lose it totally. This suspension is a great balance between actual handling increases over Stock and maintains enough ride comfort for daily driving. One gripe this suspension has by a majority is that it does not drop the car enough.

Tips: Adding front camber bolts and rear camber arms to the HFP suspension would yield better rotation if one were to allow for more negative camber in the front than the rear. Stock alignment is setup from the factory for under-steer characteristics. Adding the front camber bolts and rear camber arms allowing the camber to be greater in the front than the rear will begin to induce over-steer. Downside, increase inside tire wear. Rotate more often.

Adding a 22MM Progress RSB will also allow for greater rotation as well over the Stock 17MM.

Adding some very nice carefully chosen summer tires will also improve handling over HFP suspension.

KONI/ Swift Springs Suspension:

Damper Manufacturer: KONI
Spring Rates: 129-224 lbs/in (F) & 179-258 lbs/in (R)
Spring Style: Progressive
Ride Height: 1.2” (F) & 1.0” (R) Less Stock Height. [FA5 Specs]; 13/32” (F) and 7/32” (R) Less HFP Height. [FA5 Specs]
Adjustable: Yes; Rebound Force Adjustable.
Miles: <500
Cost: $1,150 (Cost of Below Items. Does not include cost of some tools)
KONI - $500
Swift - $240
SPC Camber - $250
Progress RSB - $160
Suspension Style: KONI Front Insert. KONI plug and play Rear Shock. Modification to stock front Showa strut housings is required; see links.

Comments: If you are looking for a suspension that allows for a little more tune ability in regards to damper rebound forces, the KONI dampers will provide that. KONI is the only brand I would trust to mate an aftermarket oe style drop spring to. If one is looking for a suspension application that meets or exceeds slightly above HFP, at a lower stance look into this type. As mentioned, I am partial to KONI products. When I decided I wanted to go a tad lower, the last thing I wanted to sacrifice was handling. It either had to meet or exceed HFP. Initially, before HFP, I wanted KONI dampers, but they were not available at the time. When I installed this suspension I was surprised on how it felt really close to HFP. I immediately noticed that the compression forces of the KONI dampers were slightly more forgiving than the HFP, but not by much. It could also be the initial spring rate of the progressive rate Swift springs, but I assume most of the initial rate is used when the suspension travels below normal droop. The load and unload rate of the Swift Springs is great. I installed the KONI dampers with rebound forces set to 75% max rebound force. At this setting the rebound forces exceed the rebound forces of the HFP suspension. I personally currently still have it on that setting. My guess would be 50-60% max rebound force is extremely close to HFP. Body roll is about the same as HFP, I would not say it decreased or increased. The suspension is a quiet one. Keep in mind I ordered almost every new upper rubber mounting, lower rubber mounting, upper mount piece etc. new. I assembled the KONI suspension as if it were HFP when it came time to install day. I took my time and did things on what I thought was the right way. I do not like to rush. In the end, you will have handling akin to the HFP suspension with slightly less center of gravity than HFP; which was the largest gripe of the HFP suspension. The “wanted” lower than HFP stance comes at an additional price and time. You sacrifice some of the contents of your wallet for that wheel gap gripe.

Additional Notes: Swift Springs instructions did not recommend altering the bump stops. I called Swift and spoke to a design technician and confirmed this application did not require that modification. All my stock bump stops are at stock length. I have no issues with hitting the bump stops over common rough NY streets. I tested going a little faster over a speed bump to see how much is required to make contact with the bump stop. I also wanted to get a feel of what it felt like so I was not caught off guard as making contact with your bump stop will significantly change the characteristics of the suspension at that contact moment. I feel it took same amount of effort as it did with HFP suspension to make contact with the bump stop.

Tips: Adding front camber bolts and rear camber arms to the KONI/ Swift Springs suspension would yield better rotation if one were to allow for more negative camber in the front than the rear. Stock alignment is setup from the factory for under-steer characteristics. Adding the front camber bolts and rear camber arms allowing the camber to be greater in the front than the rear will begin to induce over-steer. Downside, increase inside tire wear. Rotate more often.

Adding a 22MM Progress RSB will also allow for greater rotation as well over the Stock 17MM.

Adding some very nice carefully chosen summer tires will also improve handling over KONI/ Swift Springs suspension.

----------------------------------

Why KONI/ Swift Springs?:

Originally I wanted KONI dampers, but they did not exist in 2007 when I purchased my FA5.

First off, I started out with Tein SS coilovers, after Stock suspension. I personally did not care for the handling they provided. The damper valving was not up to my expectations. I set the height and forgot about it. I found that I did not need height adjustment. Keep in mind that was almost 2 years ago, there was not much aftermarket in the damper department. I started to compile about 6 months of research on the HFP. I eventually sold the Tein SS and went with HFP.

I have had HFP for 35K miles being that offered what I wanted in the handling department coupled with DD and after I found that anything below 1.5" was a waste for handling anyway.

During the past year I have done further extensive research in finding the balance between DD and spirited driving suspension application. I spoke to people who track their vehicles. I PM'd people who have tried different suspensions such as springs or coilovers and got their feedback. In the end I figured that coilovers were not for me for the following reasons:

1. I did not need height adjustable.
2. I did want to do maintenance on them every Spring being I live in a state where there is sand and salt present ~4 months out of the year.
3. Not tracking the car.

So that left me with locating a damper and spring combo that fit my expectations. Keep in mind I wanted KONI damper from the beginning, and just a few months ago they released their 06-09 Civic damper application.

The following are the original criteria I wanted for using aftermarket damper and oe style drop spring:

1. No more than an absolute max drop of 1.25” front or rear.
2. Linear rate spring
3. Excellent damper adjustable or non-adjustable
4. HFP handling

Unfortunately there is no aftermarket oe style drop spring at the moment that is true linear rate like stock or HFP. I had to immediately settle for progressive rate spring. During my research on the KONI dampers I came across many springs that people were mating to them two of them being Eibach Prokit, and Swift Racing Sport Mach oe style drop springs. Both were progressive rate, both had very similar spring rates. I began researching both spring applications, calling both companies and getting more technical information. I made it to the Swift site and learned they had a different engineering approach to the design of their coilover race springs that they are now incorporating with their oe style drop springs. Those parameters were, less coil design to reduce chances of coil bind upon compression and lighter spring material to reduce unsprung weight. I decided to purchase them due to the feedback the Mitsubishi and Subaru guys were able to provide me with their application. I will admit that the spring rates could have been slightly higher for my liking to help with better rotation. Some quick weight differences:

Wish I had an electronic bathroom scale to get a more accurate measure, but I did some preliminary weighing of some springs. Each final weight was an average of 25 times per spring, being the scale was not digital.

Eibach Sportlines:
F - 3.00 lbs
R - 2.75 lbs

Swift Sport:
F - 2.00 lbs
R - 1.90 lbs

Wish I could compare Eibach Prokit as well right now quick. That would be more comparative to Swift Sports being they offer the same drop.

The reason I went with KONI is because they have been making dampers for many years for many different applications on many racing circuits. I trust their damper valving research and design to provide me with a high quality damper tailored to lowering springs designed for 0-35mm lower center of gravity to control the spring oscillations. The dampers are rebound only adjustable, fully rebuildable (you send for re-vavling, you don’t buy new when the life has expired) and custom valving services are available. Rebound has more effect on handling than compression, but compression has more effect on ride quality than rebound. There are other aftermarket dampers, but none are rebuildable or offer custom valving services at this time.

Those are my reasons for going aftermarket damper and oe style drop spring.

General Coilover Notes:

I personally would go with a KONI/ Redshift Double Adjustable custom coilover using Swift race coilover springs choosing my own spring rates. Double adjustable meaning you adjust rebound and compression forces separately.

Facts:
-Just because it is a coilover does not mean it is superior.
-Not all coilovers are created equally.
-Not all coilovers are track worthy.
-Just like aftermarket dampers you pair with oe style drop springs, your coilover dampers will not last forever.

Some coilovers come with a ‘ride quality’ adjustment on the dampers and others do not and are purely ride height adjustable. The ones that adjust for ‘ride quality’ adjust rebound and compression forces simultaneously. With that, you will notice they adjust more compression when compared to rebound. Recall what I said earlier about when compression and rebound has on ride quality and handling. Some prebuilt coilovers will have the choice of choosing custom spring rates, but you would have to contact those companies regarding that.

The price/ amount you spend and direction you go is totally up to you. Depends what you want out of your suspension upgrade.

Stock vs. Aftermarket Dampers:

It is all up to you! I personally only like to do things once. I would like to add that you will notice difference when using drop springs on stock vs. a quality damper. Also, many of the track gurus will say anything lower than 1.5" on this chassis is no good for handling. I can attest to that; HFP handled worlds better than 2" with the coilovers I had. Even when I raised it up the coilover I was using was nowhere near my standards.

Facts:
-Too many variables to put a mileage number on for longevity when combined with a lowering springs.
-Honda does not know either, in regards to the stock suspension, which is why they suggest replacing at 60K.
-Lowering springs will technically decrease the life of the stock shocks.
-Both coilover and aftermarket dampers don't last forever. Just because it may be coilover style does not mean it will outperform when compared to a careful chosen damper and spring combo.

When you go lower, you must increase the spring rate to reduce chances of bottoming out as frequent as if one were to keep same spring rate at a lowered stance.

Compression forces of the damper are what designate most of the ride quality characteristics. Rebound forces of the damper are what designate most handling characteristics. Spring rate is what determines ride height and body roll. In essence it is a combination of all these, plus a few other things that determine final ride quality in an elementary sense.

Many people that mention a stiff ride is mostly with the fact that most are using stock dampers, which are not valved properly for the stiffer spring.

People lower their car on stock shocks all the time, and that is all they get, lower. Yes you may feel less body roll and hence thinking it handles better, to an extent. Less body roll is only part of the equation. Yes some will last 10K and some will last 60K. Yes the spring will be stiffer than stock, hence the progressive rate (initial spring rate usually lower than stock) of oe style drop springs vs. the linear rate of stock springs. Obtaining a high quality damper setup (ie. KONI) will yield far greater ride quality at the cost of a few more months of saving. Stock damper internal valving stacks are not designed to sustain the lower stance and higher spring rates akin to the oe style drop springs. Compression forces, rebound forces of the damper, spring rates and others have an effect on overall quality/ longevity of the suspension setup.

In the end, you aren't going to get as much performance out of the suspension using stock dampers. Their internal valving stack is not designed for lower stance and stresses of stiffer drop springs. It all comes down to what you want out of your time and money to swap out the stock suspension.

HFP Dampers with Aftermarket Springs:

I would not mate anything besides HFP springs with HFP dampers, but that is just me. People have done it just as they mate drop springs to stock shocks.

Redshift/ KONI vs. KONI OTS/ Ground Control (G/C):

Redshift uses a tighter design on the coilover conversion. I am in contact with Redshift to see if their design will work with the OTS KONIs or not. They have been making an excellent application using KONI products about 2 years even before KONI released their OTS application. They currently still use inserts from another vehicle that KONI and Redshift's engineers came to the conclusion that internal valving stack and shock dynos were more than sufficient for 8th Generation Civic. G/C uses a 5" spring while Redshift uses a 6" spring. 6” was deemed better for travel. The rear upper spring seat on the Redshift design utilizes a nutsert to hold it to the body of the car so the spring has no chance to fall out when jacked up. Both Redshift and G/C you are able to choose the spring rates you want, not what another company thinks you need.

The only thing that is needed to be modded is the front stock Macpherson strut housings. I was skeptical too in the beginning, but in the end you get superior damper performance.

The fact is many people are not true tuners anymore; all they want is plug and play. I will say that is convenient, but doing the work if the means and methods are available is half the fun. If means and methods are not there, then have someone else do the work for you to get what you want.

If you want KONI and you want height adjustable, go with Redshift. Speak to Chris as he is extremely knowledgeable. They will build for you, but remember, cost will be the downside to an extremely well performing, well rounded suspension.

Progressive/ Linear Rate Springs (In Short):

Progressive rate springs and linear rate springs will feel and react differently to load and unloading characteristics. Linear is more consistent and drivers can anticipate weight transfer more accurately. Progressive rate is geared more toward street in terms of "ride quality", but is more challenging to predict during chicanes due to the changing spring rates during compression and decompression.

Camber Kits:

People who get camber kits either:

1. Want better handling characteristics, so they dial in a more aggressive custom alignment. Some even add to a stock suspension, for that same reason. Get a custom alignment to dial out some of the factory under-steer. This will reduces inside tire tread life. Frequent tire rotations suggested.

2. Want stock alignment specs so tires wear as if still running stock suspension.

3. Using a rim width and offset that forces one to need to run more negative camber.

4. Combination of 1 and 3.

Final Comments/ Suggestions:

If you want linear rate, custom rate springs, go Redshift/ KONI or KONI OTS with Ground Control sleeves. I personally would use Redshift coilover conversion sleeves as their version is a safer way than G/C uses, for peace of mind reasons. No I am not saying that G/C is dangerous, just saying Redshift runs a tighter design. Cost is downside. To have a suspension to be both DD and track ready you need to be able to adjust compression forces and rebound forces of the damper separately. You can carefully choose spring rates to mate to them. Only one I know of that allows for that is Height Adjustable Redshift/ KONI Double Adjustable (D/A) suspension. Downside: 2K.

Go HFP if you want plug and play product made by Honda. I had it for 35K miles, but wanted more adjustability in the damper, and it performed really well. Pair with front/ rear camber kit for custom more aggressive alignment, Progress RSB, and decent 17" summer tires and you have quite the performer.

Doing my searching through the forums I have come to the conclusion that if you want a prebuilt coilover, the two most popular are Buddy Club N+ and Skunk2 Pro C which both could use more R&D work in their damper valving, but decent for track and street nonetheless.

Personally would not recommend anything lower than 1.5" and not using stock dampers, but that's just me. I have high standards and expectations.

I trust the companies I have chose and have confidence they will provide me with the high expectations I require out of a daily driver suspension that performs well and looks decent as a side effect.

Most will be like, "oh you could have had a coilover for that much, blah blah blah" What I will tell you back, can you get custom valving done and/ or are your coilover dampers rebuildable? (Unless they went with KONI/ Redshift) Haha.

What I want out of a suspension is probably completely different than what you want. Our driving habits are most likely different as well.

Many people like to take the cheaper route. Sometimes it works out for them, sometimes it does not.

Totally satisfied with my choice, more than I expected!

Links:

KONI-na
Swift Springs USA
RedShift Motorsports Home Page
Excelerate Performance - Japanese and European Performance Specialists!! - Homepage
CorSport Online Store
http://www.8thcivic.com/forums/suspension-brakes/151529-koni-front-insert-installation-overview.html

Pictures:

KONI/ Swift Springs Pictures:





Photos taken with <50 miles on suspension.



Photo taken with ~500 miles on suspension.

General Suspension pictures before install:

Typical KONI front inserts:


Typical KONI rear shock assembly, note stock dust cover and rear bump stop. Neither front or rear were cut for install.


Typical KONI rear shock assembly, without dustcover to show typical build.


Typical KONI rear shock assemblies, note that the body of the vehicle goes between the two rubber bushings.


Typical KONI front insert and KONI rear shocks.


Typical Swift Sport Springs, note the less coil design when compared to similiar drop; Eibach Prokit.


Typical KONI front insert mounted within stock front housing to complete the full assembly of the macpherson assembly.


HFP Pictures:

HFP Suspension w/ 18" rims




HFP Suspension w/ 17" rims 225/45 tires


HFP Suspension stock rims






 

·
Registered
Joined
·
466 Posts
Thank you for your great write up but I have a question about your front suspension. I thought that Koni only have the front Strut Insert and that you have cut and remove the top part of the stock strut, then bolt the new Koni strut into the stock O.E. housing. From your pictures, it looks like your front strut is entirely new and one piece straight form Koni with the matching yellow paint. So is your front suspension new or insert with stock strut and painted to match the yellow Koni insert? Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,477 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Thank you for your great write up but I have a question about your front suspension. I thought that Koni only have the front Strut Insert and that you have cut and remove the top part of the stock strut, then bolt the new Koni strut into the stock O.E. housing. From your pictures, it looks like your front strut is entirely new and one piece straight form Koni with the matching yellow paint. So is your front suspension new or insert with stock strut and painted to match the yellow Koni insert? Thanks.
You are correct, all the modification to the front strut housing is still needed.

I used a spare set of stock Showa housings and had them powder coated after the modification process. The place I got them powder coated at matched the color very well.

Thanks.

:thumb:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,372 Posts
Nice write up. Im running the hfp suspension and dont think its stiff enuf. I think the hfp suspension should be the oem suspension. However, my opinion is sckewed since I live in florida where the roads are flat and theres NO potholes :D Im sure if I still lived in ny, id feel differently.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
409 Posts
Great write up , looking into this set up for myself.

I do track the car now and then and with living up here in Canada, coilovers would not last the winter. I'm also not keen on switching out my suspension twice a year.

I think your cost is very reasonable considering what you have done and have saved hundreds over a decent coilover.

The drop is nice, I personally would not need height adjustability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
242 Posts
Wow, awesome write-up! Thanks for a mature and non-biased opinion with actual data. You have completely swayed my decision and I appreciate that this wasn't a thread about how to go lowest, cheapest.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,167 Posts
Great writeup--I love my HFP setup with the Progress RSB, as you mentioned. The lack of stiffness means that I can drive in the city with relative comfort yet still attack the curves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
172 Posts
Very intelligent write-up.

How does varying the damping effect the life of the shock? Although this question is the black box of suspension questions, how much longer would one expect the KONI's to last with a Pro-Kit/Swift spring? The front housing modification was made on the stock (not HFP) housing, correct?

Thanks for the information! I was initially considering BC N+ coilovers but this thread has made me think more about a good spring/shock combo
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,477 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Very intelligent write-up.

How does varying the damping effect the life of the shock? Although this question is the black box of suspension questions, how much longer would one expect the KONI's to last with a Pro-Kit/Swift spring? The front housing modification was made on the stock (not HFP) housing, correct?

Thanks for the information! I was initially considering BC N+ coilovers but this thread has made me think more about a good spring/shock combo
The effect on life with a aftermarket oe style drop spring comes from the internal valving stack. The internal valving is designed from KONI to sustain the lower and slightly higher spring rates of aftermarket springs. Stock shock's internal valving stack are not designed for the extra stresses of the drop springs hence the reason of decresed life. Front modification was made to extra sets of stock housings I had obtained. A lot easier to do it that way than mod front strut housing for a same day install. The design of the KONIs were rebound adjustable to allow the end user to adjust for better handling characteristics. I would expect my KONIs, with my driving style, to last about 60-75K miles. The Buddy Club N+ will allow for 'ride comfort' adjustablility, height adjustablility and you will be provided with higher spring rates, most likely less body roll than HFP or KONI/ any 35mm less than stock drop spring.
 
1 - 20 of 358 Posts
Top